Naturopathic medicine is a distinct primary health care system that blends modern scientific knowledge with traditional and natural forms of medicine. The naturopathic philosophy is to stimulate the healing power of the body and treat the underlying cause of disease. Symptoms of disease are seen as warning signals of improper functioning of the body, and unfavourable lifestyle habits. Naturopathic Medicine emphasizes disease as a process rather than as an entity.
[Defined by Canadian Association of Naturopathic Medicine]
One of the most extensively utilized modalities is nutrition and the therapeutic use of foods. Many medical conditions may originate from or be aggravated by food intolerances, deficiencies, dietary imbalances or nutritional. Treatment plans may include dietary modification and nutritional supplements to treat health concerns and with fewer complications and side effects.
Botanical Medicine has been utilized for centuries, in fact some modern medicines contain components derived from plants. Modern scientific research has brought about a new understanding of components of plants that have been utilized historically to treat illness or promote health. 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, and have the knowledge to avoid interactions.
This system of medicine was developed in the 1800s by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann. It is based on the principle of “like cures like”. Small amounts of natural substances are used to stimulate the body’s self-healing mechanisms. This may involve the use of several remedies at once (complex homeopathy), or a single remedy (classical homeopathy).
Traditional Chinese Medicine / Acupuncture
The 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 deficient, 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. Acupuncture involves the use of very thin needles which are inserted into specific points along the meridians in order to have the desired effect. Acupuncture is utilized worldwide, and has a bulk of scientific literature demonstrating its effectiveness.
Physical medicine offers treatment for many different health concerns. Physical medicine can include hydrotherapy techniques, exercise prescriptions and exercise therapy.
Prevention and Lifestyle Counselling
Addressing the individual as a whole is key to the philosophy of Naturopathic Medicine understanding this, mental attitudes and emotional states are important elements in healing and disease. Addressing all aspects of a person’s life, identifying and addressing the impact that stress and life events have on a patient’s health is an important aspect of Naturopathic treatment. Naturopathic doctors are trained to provide counselling on diet, lifestyle, specific stressors, exercise and occupational or environmental hazards.
In Canada, the Naturopathic Medical profession’s infrastructure includes accredited educational institutions, professional licensing, national standards of practice. Current regulation of Naturopathic Doctors falls under the Board of Directors of Drugless Therapy – Naturopathy.