what is Naturopathic Medicine?
Naturopathic Medicine is a distinct healing art that combines the use of nature’s wisdom with rigors of modern science. It is not simply the application of evidence based herbs, food and therapies, but the main goal is to build health through investigating and treating the root cause of the imbalance. It involves use of natural treatments and substances that will facilitate body’s own inherent abilities to heal and restore balance.
What training is involved for Licensed Naturopathic Doctor?
There are only few accredited schools that provide intensive medical training to be a Naturopathic Doctor (ND). Applicants to accredited naturopathic medical colleges in the US need a bachelor’s degree and a competitive GPA in scientific prerequisites, just like applicants to “conventional” medical schools.
After admission, the course work of the first two years of naturopathic and “conventional” medical school is comparable both in subjects and in hours of training. We learn all the basic medical sciences like anatomy, pathology, and biochemistry including all the ‘ology’ series like- pharmacology, neurology, gynecology, gastroenterology etc. We learn to use the same labs, physical exams, and medical imaging (X-ray, CT, MRI) that hospitals and clinics utilize to diagnose diseases and monitor health. The next 3 years involves intensive study of Naturopathic therapeutics involving Botanical medicine, functional medicine, clinical Nutrition and supplements, Homeopathy, Hydrotherapy, Manipulation, craniosacral therapy and other modalities of physical therapy.
ND’s are experts into looking at Herb-drug interaction, and interpretation of research literature to help make appropriate treatment decisions.
In cases where there is a need to wean off medications (when purpose is not served, or instances where patient prefers to consider other routes) we can bridge the gap by educating patients providing other options, so they can make their own informed choices. ND’s have in depth training in pharmacology of drugs and can effectively support the system during this process.
One of the six principles of Naturopathic Medicine is- To treat the root cause and we go a huge extent to find the cause of illness. This may involve physical exams, extensive testing through regular conventional diagnostic and non- conventional tests called functional lab testing. Functional laboratory tests can aid in finding the root cause where modern tests may fail. (Eg: comprehensive stool analysis, MTHFR genetic testing, Lyme, food sensitivity tests, heavy metal screen etc.).
Our treatments are advised based on the therapeutic order where laying the basic foundations of healthy living is the first step. Use of higher force interventions like specific nutrients, herbs, homeopathy are selected depending on the condition and severity. A referral is done to other specialists if there is a necessity.
What conditions do Naturopathic Doctors treat?
Naturopathic medicine treats all forms of health concerns — from pediatric to geriatric, from irritating systems to chronic illness and from the physical to the psychological.
- Patients that are looking for disease prevention and health promotion strategies.
- Patients that have a range of symptoms that they have been unable to address on their own or with the help of other medical practitioners like chronic pain, fatigue, fibromyagia, autoimmune disorders, etc.
- Patients that have been diagnosed with an illness and are looking for alternative treatments. Naturopathic medicine is very effective in improving quality of life for those with serious and life threatening illnesses.
We appreciate that our patients are much more than their physical components and consider overall spiritual and emotional aspects providing –‘health care’ that is in its true sense. Every individual is unique and different with his own values and priorities and as ND’s we believe that our health care should reflect that.
What is the difference between a Naturopath and a Naturopathic Doctor?
These terms are very confusing and often interchangeably used regardless of the background and training. Naturopathic doctors (ND’s) go through rigorous 6-8 years of medical training to become a Licensed ND.
On the other hand, a Naturopath may have an extensive background of information and years of experience treating patients without formal Naturopathic medical training. Others may have only attended a weekend workshop. Your medical doctor may call himself a naturopath if they use alternative modalities with patients. So, the difference lies mostly in the extent of training in naturopathic philosophies, approach and treatments that sets us apart from others.
Is there a difference between a naturopathic doctor and a homeopath?
Yes. Naturopathic doctors learn several modalities during their training such as Botanical medicine, counseling nutrition and homeopathy. Homeopaths on the other hand focus on just one modality- Homeopathic remedies.
Although both attempt to stimulate the innate healing of the body, Naturopathic doctors have more tools to use in combination along with homeopathy.