WHAT IS NATUROPATHIC MEDICINE?
At it’s very heart, Naturopathic Medicine is both an ancient healing art, as well as, at the forefront of today’s thinking and research in it’s approach to health. From it’s roots based in the healing wisdom of India, China, and Greece, to it’s formal emergence in the 19th century, Naturopathic Medicine, today, explores the interconnectedness of our physical bodies, our thoughts, emotions, diet, lifestyle, and environment.
Today’s Naturopathic Doctors are comprehensively trained to be the experts in holistic, funtionally-minded medicine. At the primary level of care, they utilize physical exams, laboratory testing, imaging studies, and appropriate medication and referrals when neccessary. At a more comprehensive level, they emphasize the crucial roles that nutrition, proper digestion, detoxification, and lifestyle play in promoting health and vitality. They fundamentally believe that the body has an innate ability to begin healing and move toward health if the various obstacles to cure are removed. Thus, their role is one of working with their patients to find a uniquely appropriate direction that the patient can explore as they begin their own healing process.
Naturopathic Doctors are licensed in Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Vermont, various provinces of Canada, and the U.S. Teritories of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
NYS LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
Over the past 12 years, the Naturopathic Physicians in New York, along with our state association (NYANP) have worked with the NYS Senate and Assembly to establish licensure for Naturopathic Physicians in New York.
During the 2012 legislative session, there was a licensure bill submitted in Albany. Despite the fact that it did have an overwhelming number of sponsors, co-sponsors, and public support, the bill was not introduced in the NYS Assembly Higher Education Committee by Assemblymember Deborah J. Glick (D-66th).
To help support licensure in New York State…please visit the New York Association of Naturopathic Physicians.
To learn more about the wider scope of Naturopathic Medicine, please explore the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians.
The very foundation of Naturopathic Medicine is that of healthy nutrition. Interwoven in this broad category are the roles of the individual’s specific nutritional requirements, proper digestion, proper elimination, food sensitivities, food allergies, dietary restrictions, stress, and cooking habits; also considered are Genetically Modified Organisms [GMOs], food additives, food preservatives, binders, fillers, pesticides, herbacides, hormones, and antibiotics. Most Naturopathic Doctors advocate a whole-foods based approach to nutrition; with the focused use of vitamins, mineral, supplements, and digestive aides when appropriate.
Plants have been used as medicine for centuries. Aspirin derived from Willow bark, Digitalis derived from Foxglove, Opiate Painkillers from Poppy, Valium from Valerian root, to name just a few. Naturopathic Doctors study their historical uses, as well as, their modern biochemical and pharmacological mechanisms.
Homeopathy is a system of medicine that treats a disease with very minute quantities of an agent, or drug, that will produce the same symptoms as the disease when given to a healthy individual; the fundamental principle is based upon “like cures like.” This approach to treating illness was developed in the early 1800’s by Samuel Hahnemann and is quite popular today in England, France, and Germany. The United States government regulates this medicine under the HPUS [Homeopathic Pharmacopeia of the United States].
Physical Medicine is a broad category of treatment that addresses primarily musculoskeletal concerns. It includes postural and gait analysis, muscular holding patterns, active stretching, Neuro-Muscular Technique, therpeutic exercise, and therapeutic massage. Electronic medical devices such as Ultrasound and TENS are also used. Hydrotherapy, in both it’s local contrast and constitutional forms, are used for musculoskeletal concerns as well as stimulating immunity and vitality. Cranio-Sacral Therapy is also commonly used in many treatments.
Counseling + Lifestyle Modification
Integral to Naturopathic Medicine is the understanding that an individual’s physical wellbeing is not entirely separate from other aspects of their health, such as their mental, emotional, social, and spiritual dimensions. Health and illness are flipsides of a dynamic coin that is in constant state of flux. Naturopathic Doctors are formally trained in various aspects of counseling, progressive relaxation, guided imagery, and meditation.
Seasonal detoxification and fasting has been a regular part of traditional cultures from around the world. Naturopathic Medicine looks to the functioning of the digestive system as a reflection of vitality in the body. In today’s modern world, through our dietary choices, we often overload our bodies with excessive calories and food additives which do not promote our wellbeing. Temporarily changing our eating patterns, incorporating specific foods and nutrients, and stimulating the various organs of elimination are used to increase health. Specific programs are designed when working with patients who have serious health concerns, as well as, those who wish to learn how to make it a part of their lifestyle.
PRINCIPLES OF NATUROPATHIC MEDICINE
First, Do No Harm
Naturopathic Doctors are well trained and utilize safe and effective natural therapies.
The Healing Power of Nature
The body has an incredible ability to heal itself. It is the role of the doctor to facilitate and enhance this process.
Identify and Treat the Cause
Naturopathic Doctors seek to understand the underlying causes of the disease process. They realize that symptoms provide valuble information in understanding the mechanisms involved. Optimally, it is better to treat the real cause of the illness than to solely suppress the symptoms.
Treat the Whole Person
Individuals are incredibly powerful and complex beings that are so much more than their physical bodies. Mental, emotional, spiritual, social, and other factors should all be considered in the care of patients.
Doctor as Teacher
The latin root for doctor, docere, means to teach. Naturopathic Doctors seek to teach, empower, and motivate their patients, and the public at large, to understand their bodies and to assume more personal responsibility for their health by incorporating healthier habits, diets, and lifestyles. Through understanding the individual is empowered and emboldened.
Naturopathic Doctors are specialists in preventative medicine. By understanding and focusing on health and healing, Naturopathic Doctors promote optimal wellness throughout an individual’s life. By empowering an individual to make healthier choices many chronic diseases can be prevented.