Naturopathy, or Naturopathic Medicine, is a distinct primary health care system that blends modern scientific knowledge with traditional and natural forms of medicine. Naturopathic medicine uses a wide variety of therapies to treat, support and uncover the root cause of patient health concerns. The focus of naturopathic care is centered on the individual, their current health, family history as well as lifestyle choices all of which informs the diagnosis and treatment plan offered by a naturopathic doctor. Depending on the needs of the individual patient, treatments may include: clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathic medicine, acupuncture and Tradition Chinese medicine, lifestyle counseling, or a combination of these.
The naturopathic philosophy is to treat the root cause of disease. For many patients, this difference in approach to health provides them with a new perspective and awareness. By addressing the root cause(s) of disease and through the appropriate use of natural therapies many patients with chronic illness have found tremendous benefits.
Naturopathic medicine treats all forms of health concerns — from pediatric to geriatric, from acute to chronic illness, from mild to serious illnesses like cancer, and from the physical to the psychological. It is the approach, philosophy and training of naturopathic doctors that sets it apart from other forms of health care.
What Naturopathic Doctors Do
Naturopathic doctors use conventional and naturopathic diagnostic tools for assessing health concerns and determining the most appropriate treatment program. The diagnostic tools used include:
Thorough Health HistoryThe initial intake is usually about 1½ to 2 hours in length and includes a detailed history. Your Naturopathic Doctor will take the time to find out about your family history, your lifestyle, the stressors in your life, past medical history, history of accidents or injuries and the significant events in your life that have affected your health or well being.
Nutritional AnalysisUnderstanding your nutritional status, eating habits and patterns and the type of food that you eat on a regular is an important part of the naturopathic assessment.
Physical ExaminationsNaturopathic Doctors are trained to do complete physical exams as use them as a standard part of an assessment. As your health changes or as acute situations arise, Naturopathic Doctors will use aspects of the physical examination to aid in diagnosis and assessment of your health concerns.
Comprehensive Laboratory TestingLaboratory testing, including urine analysis, blood work and saliva testing, is an essential aspect of a complete medical assessment. Your Naturopathic Doctor will use standard laboratory testing to provide them with further information for a complete assessment.
Previous Medical Reports and Diagnostic TestingAll medical reports, such as MRIs, X-rays or scans are valuable assets your naturopathic doctor will use during an assessment of your health concerns.
TreatmentYour Naturopathic doctor will use a range of different therapies to address your physical, mental and emotional health. The range of modalities all assist the body’s healing response, and they are often more effective when combined.
Clinical NutritionFood intolerances, deficiencies, dietary imbalances or nutritional excesses have been associated with many medical conditions. Your naturopathic doctor is trained to understand the impact that your diet is having on your health.
Botanical MedicineMedicinal plants have been, and will continue to be a valuable part of health care. These plants and plant substances are highly effective and safe in the right dosage and when used correctly with other herbs and treatments. Herbs can be prepared in many forms – teas, tinctures or capsules. Naturopathic doctors are extensively trained in both the art and science of botanical medicine. Naturopathic doctors are currently the only health care providers in Canada to be regulated for the use of botanical medicine.
Homeopathic MedicineThis powerful system of medicine is more than 200 years old and is widely accepted in many countries. Homeopathic remedies are made from specific dilutions of plant, animal and mineral substances. When carefully matched to the patient they are able to affect the body’s “vital force” and to stimulate the body’s innate healing forces on both the physical and emotional levels, with few side effects. Some conditions that do not respond well to conventional medicine respond effectively to homeopathy.
Traditional Chinese Medicine and AcupunctureThe key principle that defines and connects all of Chinese medicine is that of Chi, or vital energy. The chi of all organs must be in balance, neither too active nor too dormant, for a person to be healthy. The chi of the body’s organs and systems are all connected in meridians or channels that lie just under the skin. Your Naturopathic Doctor will use Eastern herbs andacupuncture to assist the body in regulating the Chi and achieving balance. Acupuncture is the use of very thin needles which are inserted into specific meridian points. The practice of acupuncture has been around for over two thousand years and has proven to be very effective especially for pain relief and chronic illness.
EducationIn Canada, the naturopathic medical profession’s infrastructure includes accredited educational institutions, professional licensing, national standards of practice, and a commitment to state-of-the-art scientific research.