Naturopathic medicine is a distinct, primary health care profession, emphasizing a natural, self-empowering approach. Naturopathic doctors emphasize prevention, treatment, and optimal health, and use encourage an individual’s inherent self-healing process. The practice of naturopathic medicine includes modern and traditional, scientific and empirical methods.
Naturopathic doctors, also referred to as ND’s, undergo rigorous training through an accredited four-year doctoral program. In addition to basic medical sciences and conventional diagnostics, Naturopathic education includes therapeutic nutrition, herbal medicine, homeopathy, physical medicine, pharmacology and minor surgery. They receive over 1,000 hours of clinical training, and pass two medical board exams in order to obtain their medical license.
In Washington State, Naturopathic doctors are licensed primary care providers, and may diagnose illness using the same methods used in conventional medicine. They use laboratory tests, imaging and physical exams to identify the cause of the problem. Once licensed, Naturopathic doctors have similar prescriptive rights to medical doctors, and use these medications when they are indicated. They are trained to blend traditional and conventional therapies to create an individualized treatment plan using the least invasive options possible, to achieve the greatest result. Like other primary care doctors, ND’s delegate to nurses and medical assistants and refer to specialists when appropriate.
Naturopathic Doctors operate under the following principles:
1. First Do No Harm – Naturopath’s use methods and medicinal products that minimize the risk of harmful side effects, using the least invasive tools necessary to diagnose and treat. We avoid, when possible, the harmful suppression of symptoms and we acknowledge, respect and work with the individual’s self-healing process.
2. The Healing Power of Nature– 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. Discover and Treat the Cause, Not just the effect
3. Treat the whole person – Naturopathic physicians treat each patient by taking into account individual physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social and other factors. Since total health also includes spiritual health, naturopathic physicians encourage individuals to pursue their personal spiritual development.
4. Identify and treat the cause: The naturopathic physician seeks to identify and remove the underlying causes of illness rather than to merely eliminate or suppress symptoms.
5. The physician is a teacher – We educate our patients and encourage self-responsibility for health.We also recognize and employ the therapeutic potential of the doctor-patient relationship.
6. Prevention is the best “cure” – We emphasize the prevention of disease by assessing risk factors, heredity and susceptibility to disease, and by making appropriate interventions in partnership with their patients to prevent illness.
Source: American Association of Naturopathic Physicians & Washington Association of Naturopathic Physicians