Philosophy of Naturopathic Medicine
Naturopathic medicine is a distinct system of primary health care. It’s the art, science, philosophy and practice of diagnosing, treating and preventing both acute and chronic disease. Naturopathic medicinal interventions and techniques encompass the use of all modern, traditional, scientific, and empirical methods.
Conventional medicine focuses on stopping things, using items like “anti”-biotics, “anti”-fungals, “anti”-inflammatories, anti-this, and anti-that. Naturopaths work with the body and is very "pro-body," not "anti-body." ND’s utilize methods to allow the body to function on its own, such as the use of: “pro”-biotics. Our philosophy is what sets us apart from our conventional colleagues.
6 philosophical principles of naturopathic healing:
Vis Medicatrix Naturae “The Healing Power of Nature”
Naturopathic medicine recognizes an inherent self-healing process in people that is ordered and intelligent. The body has the inherent ability to heal itself, restore health, and ward off disease. Illness is not caused simply by an invasion of external agents or germs, but is a manifestation of the organism’s attempt to defend and heal itself. The Naturopathic Physician’s role is to identify and remove agents blocking the healing process, bolster the patient’s healing capacity, and support the healthy internal and external environment to trigger and augment the body’s own inherent self-healing ability to health itself.
Primum Non Nocere “First Do No Harm”
Naturopathic Physicians understanding that symptoms are signals of imbalance, so we address the reason for the imbalance. ND’s respect the inherent ability of the organism to heal itself, the physician must be ever mindful of the consequences or side effects of treatment. The more gentle and non-invasive the therapy, the less disruptive it will be to the patient’s internal whole. Whenever possible, suppression of symptoms is avoided, as suppression may interfere with the healing process and drive illness deeper into the body. Example: long term use of steroid creams for eczema may drive the illness deeper into the body resulting in asthma. The Naturopathic Physician must be mindful of the corollary consequences of treatment and seek to use non-invasive, natural therapies to best enhance the health of the individual.
Naturopathic physicians follow 3 guidelines to avoid harming the patient:
◦ Utilize methods and medicinal substances which minimize the risk of harmful side effects, using the least force necessary to diagnose and treat;
◦ Avoid when possible the harmful suppression of symptoms; and
◦ Acknowledge, respect, and work with individuals’ self-healing process.
Tolle Causam “Identify and Treat the Cause”
The Naturopathic Physician seeks to identify and remove the underlying cause of illness rather than merely eliminate or suppress symptoms. Illness does not occur without cause, and symptoms are not the cause of illness. Symptoms are a reflection that the body is out of balance; an expression of the body’s attempt to heal itself. Cause originates on many levels, and they are often found in the patient’s lifestyle, diet, habits, or emotional state. If only the symptoms are treated, the cause remains and the patient may develop a more serious chronic condition by suppressing those symptoms.
Docere “Doctor as Teacher”
The original latin root meaning of the word “doctor” was “teacher.” A physician is the facilitator for a patient’s healing process. One of a physician’s principal responsibilities is to educate the patient and encourage self-responsibility for health, thus “teaching” how to take responsibility for one’s own well-being. A cooperative doctor-patient relationship has inherent therapeutic value.
Treat the Whole Person
Health and “dis-ease” result from a complex interaction of physical, mental, emotional, genetic, spiritual, environmental, social, and other factors. The harmonious functioning of all aspects of the individuals is essential to good health. All systems are connected and there is rarely a single cause for disease. Total health also includes spiritual health. Naturopathic physicians encourage individuals to pursue their personal spiritual development, whatever that may be. The nature of good health is multi-factorial, and ND’s work with each individual to create a holistic sense of well-being. All aspects of an individual must be integrated together in order to create a whole picture so therapy can be directed at underlying as well as immediate causative factors, thus treating the whole person.
Prevention is the best cure
Health is a oftentimes a reflection of how we choose to live. The best examples are chronic degenerative disease. Naturopaths help patients recognize their choices and how those choices affect their health. Naturopaths assess lifestyle risk factors and hereditary susceptibility to disease which contribute to health, and make appropriate intervention to prevent and avoid illness.