Naturopathic Medicine is a distinct profession of primary healthcare that places an emphasis on disease prevention, natural therapies, and promotion of optimal health.
The goal of the naturopathic physician is to treat the whole person, restoring balance to the body, mind and spirit by removing the “obstacles of cure” rather than simply treating a set of symptoms. The human body has a tremendous capacity to heal itself. The principle known as vis medicatrix naturae, or the healing power of nature, is the foundation of naturopathic philosophy and practice.
“…for the part can never be well unless the whole is well…” Plato
Although the term naturopathy, or naturopathic medicine, was not used until the late 19th century, its philosophical roots date back thousands of years. The science of naturopathic medicine is a comprehensive body of knowledge derived from both age-old traditional systems of healing and contemporary cutting-edge scientific understanding of the human organism. Naturopathy is a blending of the science of medicine and the art of healing.
Naturopathic physicians use many of the same conventional methods of diagnosis used by other doctors, including but not limited to blood tests, urinalysis, physical exam, x-ray and ultrasound. They may additionally do saliva, blood or urine testing for assessing neurotransmitter levels, toxic metal analysis, food allergy testing and specialized stool testing, to name a few. More importantly, a naturopathic physician gathers information by active listening.
Naturopathic physicians ideally avoid treatments that merely suppress symptoms and counteract the body’s innate ability to heal itself, but instead use therapeutic substances and techniques that act in harmony with the body. Getting to the true root of the problem requires sharp diagnostics and a thorough understanding of how the body’s processes work.
Naturopathic medicine, with its holistic philosophy may utilize a multifaceted approach, including therapeutic nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathy, spinal and soft tissue therapies, lifestyle management, cleansing and detoxification, and emotional and spiritual counseling to create a unique program that is custom designed for the patient’s individual needs.
When the situation arises, naturopathic physicians in the State of Arizona are licensed to prescribe certain prescriptive medicines as well.
The naturopathic physician becomes a partner in health with his or her patients, encouraging participation in the healing process on every level and in every step along the way.
Naturopathic physicians undergo training similar to other doctors. Naturopathic medical schools are four year post graduate schools with rigorous admission requirements. These schools mirror conventional medical schools in that the basic courses are the same, including: anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pathology, microbiology, immunology, pharmacology, cardiology, dermatology, neurology, gynecology, gastroenterology, rheumatology, psychology, minor surgery, and physical and clinical diagnosis.
Naturopathic physicians receive additional training in therapeutic nutrition, botanical medicine therapy and compounding, homeopathic prescribing, hydrotherapy, spinal manipulation, and soft-tissue therapies.
“The art of healing comes from nature and not the physician. Therefore, the physician must start from nature with that in mind.” – Parcelsus