Naturopathic physicians are trained as integrative doctors, emphasizing the use of natural therapies in the treatment and prevention of acute and chronic illnesses. Naturopathic practice is predicated upon the assumption that the human body is inherently capable of healing itself. In practice, NDs perform physical examinations, take thorough health histories, make nutritional and dietary assessments, and order lab tests.
NDs may also order diagnostic tests and imaging procedures such as x-rays, ultrasounds, and anything else a primary care physician would require to assess health and determine appropriate treatment methods for a patient. Referrals are made to specialists or other healthcare providers for additional testing or treatment when necessary. Licensed NDs are currently working alongside medical doctors (M.D.) and osteopathic doctors (D.O.) in progressive states to provide integrative solutions.
Principles of Naturopathic Medicine
Naturopathic medicine is founded upon six guiding principles, rather than methods or modalities. It utilizes the most natural, least invasive and least toxic therapies to promote wellness by viewing the body as an integrated whole. The following are the principles that unite and distinguish naturopathic medicine.
- The Healing Power of Nature
Naturopathic medicine recognizes an inherent self-healing process in each person 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.
- Identifying the Causes
The naturopathic physician seeks to identify and remove the underlying causes of illness, rather than to merely eliminate or suppress symptoms, whenever possible.
- First, Do No Harm
To avoid harming the patient, naturopathic physicians follow three precepts:
- Utilize methods and substances that minimize risk of harmful side effects, using the least force necessary to achieve an outcome.
- Avoid, when possible, the harmful suppression of symptoms.
- Acknowledge, respect, and work with the individual’s self-healing process.
- Doctor as Teacher
Naturopathic physicians educate their patients and encourage self-responsibility for health. They also recognize and employ the healing potential of the doctor-client relationship.
- Acknowledging the Whole Person
Naturopathic physicians work with each client by taking into account individual physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social and other factors. Since total health includes spiritual health, naturopathic physicians may encourage individuals to pursue their personal path of spiritual development.
- Preservation of Health
Emphasizing the preservation of health, naturopathic physicians assess a patient’s risk factors, heredity, and susceptibility to disease, and make appropriate interventions in partnership with their patients to help preserve health and increase wellness.
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