Naturopathic Medicine is a unique and distinct system of health care that emphasizes the prevention of illness and natural therapeutics in our approach to disease management. Our education is focused on training naturopathic physicians to serve as primary care general practitioners whose expertise is the prevention, diagnosis, management, and treatment of both acute and chronic health conditions.
Naturopathic physicians are trained at federally-accredited, four-year, post-graduate, residential naturopathic medical programs, with entrance requirements much like any medical school. The training consists of comprehensive study of the conventional medical sciences, including anatomy, physiology, pathology, microbiology, immunology, clinical and physical diagnosis, laboratory diagnosis, cardiology, gastroenterology, gynecology, and others, as well as detailed study of a wide variety of natural therapies.
Six guiding principles are infused throughout our educational process: First, Do No Harm; The Healing Power of Nature; Find the Cause; Treat the Whole Person; Preventive Medicine; and, Doctor as Teacher. This set of principles outlines the philosophy guiding the naturopathic approach to health and healing.
Naturopathic physicians use a variety of natural and non-invasive therapies, including clinical nutrition, homeopathy, botanical medicine, hydrotherapy, physical medicine, and counseling. Many naturopathic physicians have additional training and certification in acupuncture and natural child birth. Many N.D.s also practice energetic healing approaches like flower essences, holographic repatterning, Reiki, and other forms of vibrational medicine. Because we are not limited to a standard of practice requiring the use of conventional pharmaceutical or surgical interventions, naturopathic physicians can specifically tailor their approaches to dealing with health problems to each individual patient. Cookbook approaches that fit everyone are rare in naturopathic medicine. Our treatments are effective in treating a wide variety of conditions without the need for additional intervention.
Naturopathic physicians are also able to function within an integrated framework, and naturopathic therapies can be used to complement treatments used by conventionally trained medical doctors. The result is a patient-centered approach that strives to provide the most appropriate treatment for each individual's needs.
A Little History
Naturopathic medicine in the United States came into existence just over 100 years ago, developed by a physician named Benedict Lust in New York State. While the profession by name is just a century old, the natural therapies and philosophy on which naturopathic medicine is based have been effectively used to treat diseases since ancient times. The use of herbal remedies, dietary interventions, hydrotherapy, and lifestyle changes have been used throughout history and in nearly every culture to inhabit the Earth. Hippocrates, a Greek physician who lived 2400 years ago, first formulated the concept of vis medicatrix naturae -- "the healing power of nature." This concept has long been at the core of medicine in many cultures around the world and remains one of the central themes of naturopathic philosophy today.