Naturopathic Medicine – Do No Harm
What is Naturopathic Medicine?
Naturopathic medicine includes the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease and is based on the belief that the human body has an innate healing ability. Naturopathic is not a single modality treatment, but draws upon an array of natural healing interventions and diagnostic techniques. It particularly emphasizes Do No Harm by stressing the use of interventions that are largely free of side effects rather than pharmaceutical medicines and surgery.
Naturopathy is one of the oldest forms of medicine known to human kind, tracing its roots to the healing techniques of ancient China, India, Greece and the Native American cultures. The oldest medicine known to man is Siddha medicine still practiced in India. It is also known as Tamil Maruthuvam. Siddha actually means one has attained perfection in life or heavenly bliss. It is particularly useful for treating chronic ailments, such as arthritis, asthma, diabetes and it is also effective in the case of bone fractures.
Today the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians organization just had its 25th anniversary. Naturopathy was popular in the 1920’s, then conventional medicine became more popular, and naturopathy started to regain its popularity about 1970.
Naturopathic Medicine Sign
A naturopathic doctor (ND) has a doctoral degree in the study of naturopathic medicine. This degree requires premedical for 4 years, plus 4 years of graduate training in an accredited naturopathic medical school. Fourteen U.S. states, 4 Canadian provinces and Washington DC license ND’s as primary care physicians. Naturopathic medicine plays a primary role in cancer care, so the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians (OncANP) has created a board certification process for ND.s who specializes in cancer. NDs believe that cancer arises from an imbalance that causes a systemic breakdown within the body. They help people with cancer restore internal balance and build their resistance to disease by empowering them to make lifestyle and dietary changes. Naturopaths prescribe natural therapies that can slow tumor growth, strengthen the immune system, and enhance the effectiveness of conventional therapy.
Founding Principles of Modern Naturopathy
Modern Naturopathy is founded on six basis principles:
- Nature has the power to heal. It is the physician’s role to support the self-healing process by removing the obstacles to health.
- Treat the whole person. Disease rarely has a single cause, so every aspect of the patient must be brought into harmonious balance.
- First, do no harm. A physician should utilize methods and substances that are nontoxic and noninvasive as possible. They use low-risk procedures, such as dietary supplements, herbal extracts and homeopathy- with few or no side effects.
- Identify and treat the cause. Rather than suppress symptoms, the physician
should treat the underlying causes of disease.
- Prevention is an important as a cure. A physician should help create health, as well as, cure disease. Proactive medicine saves money, pain, misery and lives. That’s why Doctors should be teachers. “Doctor” originally meant “teacher.” Part of the physician’s task is to educate the patient and encourage self-responsibility
Modalities by a Neuropathic Doctor
Naturopathic doctors teach their patients to use diet, exercise, lifestyle changes and cutting edge natural therapies to enhance their body’s ability to ward off and combat disease. They help mobilize their patients’ own natural healing powers. Symptoms represent the body’s attempt to heal itself; the naturopath does not try to suppress them. The following modalities can become an area of specialization for a naturopath:
- Clinical nutrition: Typical treatment methods of naturopathy include clinical nutrition using therapeutic use of nutrition and diet is the cornerstone of naturopathic medicine. The naturopaths may make recommendations suggesting particular foods or suggest nutritional supplements including herbs, vitamins and minerals.
- Physical medicine: Hydrotherapy, exercise, massage, naturopathic manipulation techniques, which are somewhat similar to chiropractic; immobilization, by using braces and splints, or heat therapy, electrical stimulation and light therapy.
- Homeopathy: a frequent area of specialization among naturopathic practitioners.
- Botanical medicine: Naturopathic physicians are trained herbalist who believes that using whole plants is generally more effective and less harmful than using either isolated chemical substances
- Natural childbirth: Studies of naturopathic obstetrical care have demonstrated that naturopaths achieve much lower complication rates during and after childbirth than conventional care
- Traditional Chinese Medicine: A common are of specialization for naturopathic physicians is Chinese medicine, which includes Chinese herbs and acupuncture
- Ayurveda: This originated in ancient India. It is the world’s oldest medicine
- Minor Surgery: Naturopaths are trained to perform a variety of minor surgical techniques (which are done in the office under local anesthesia) such as a superficial wound repair, removal of a foreign mass, therapy for spider and varicose veins, minor hemorrhoid surgery, circumcision and the setting of fractures
Naturopathy and Health Books
Conclusion of Naturopathic Treatment
An initial appointment with a neuropath takes about an hour with the patient filling out a complete medical history. The neuropath evaluates the patient’s lifestyle. Diagnosis may include a physical examination, conventional blood and urine tests and tests that are not common in conventional medicine, such as the urine indicant test that looks for toxemia or the Heidelerg test that measures the amount of stomach acidity.
Treatment is individualized, generally using a combination of therapies, such as lifestyle counseling, recommendations on diet, exercise and stress management. In some stated NDs can prescribe some drugs, such as antibiotics, thyroid medication or progesterone. Treatment is very specific to each case and naturopathology focuses more on the whole person than the treatment of isolated disease entities. Therefore, practitioners are usually highly skilled in counseling and communication techniques.
Naturopathic methods have some limitations as they don’t treat acute trauma, childbirth emergencies, and broken limbs, performing corrective surgery or treating life threatening illnesses.
However, naturopathic medicine has had great success in treating cancer patients. Thousands or patients have reported astonishing recovery from cancer using naturopathic methods. Furthermore, from 1991-1993, a study of 43 women with abnormal pap smears engaged in a naturopathic program consisted of botanical and nutritional suppositories. After the study, 38 of the women no longer had abnormal smears. A pilot study at Bastyr University, HIV patients sowed improved immune function after engaging in a comprehensive program of herbal and nutritional therapies.
To conclude, there is a clearly a place for naturopathy medicine in our society. It is less intrusive, lets the patient make changes that enhance his or her health without traditional pharmaceuticals or treatments. The Do No Harm philosophy is one that you must respect and appreciate as a holistic approach to medicine.
© 2010 Pamela Oglesby
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