What is Naturopathic Medicine?
Naturopathic medicine is a complete approach to healthcare, which offers patients the opportunity to explore their health and disease symptoms from a holistic standpoint, treating all individual elements of health and wellness as a whole. This approach to healing is built primarily on the venerable concept that the body contains an innate ability to heal itself.
Naturopathic doctors are primary care practitioners who practice a preventative approach to medicine, but also work to identify and treat the root cause of disease. They are well integrated with medical doctors, surgeons and specialists to ensure that the best treatment method is prescribed. However, they have a different standard of practice. Naturopathic doctors promote a complete wellness plan tailored to the individuals’ needs by taking into consideration that health is equal to the sum of its parts. The biological, psychological and social surroundings characteristic to each patient, looking beyond the obvious symptoms, are essential to finding and treating the root cause for imbalance. The scope of practice encompasses the use of: Traditional Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture, Botanical Medicine, Clinical Nutrition, Counseling/Health Psychology, Homeopathic Medicine, Lifestyle Modification, and Physical Medicine as primary tools for treatment. Naturopathic philosophy promotes an expanded understanding of health with a strong emphasis on stimulating the body’s natural healing process through ancient healing remedies, and modern scientific practices.
In Canada, the naturopathic medical professions infrastructure includes accredited educational institutions, professional licensing, national standards of practice, participation in many federal health committee initiatives, and a commitment to state-of-the-art scientific research.
Naturopathic doctors are required to complete a minimum of eight-years post-secondary education. The Bachelor of Naturopathy program requires a Bachelor’s degree along with extensive references, applications and interviews for admission to a Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME) accredited school. The CNME accreditation allows students to write two Naturopathic Licensing Examinations (NPLEX), offered by the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners (NABNE). Passage of both examinations is required for licensure in regulated jurisdictions which include: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia and those states in the U.S. that regulate the practice of naturopathic medicine.
The competitive Naturopathic program is an intensive four-years of more than 1,200 hours of clinical experience and over 3,000 hours of classroom training. Three major areas of study for the naturopathic doctor include: biomedical sciences, clinical sciences and naturopathic therapeutics. These areas of study coupled with extensive scientific research training provide naturopathic doctors with the knowledge and resources to provide you with the most optimal and complete care you deserve!
Naturopathic doctors are guided by the following principles:
The six principles of naturopathic medicine represent the core values of the profession guiding naturopathic doctors to act as catalysts in the healing process, enhancing long-term health and well being in the least invasive way possible.
First Do No Harm: Primum No Nocere – in order to understand a disease process we must understand where it is originating from. With proper physical examination and collection of all relevant past medical history, family history and present medical health, ND’s avoid treating the obvious signs and symptoms without consideration of all medical information, which prevents undue harm to the patient.
Healing Power of Nature: Vis Mediatrix Naturae – our bodies will naturally move to reestablish equilibrium and restore health when faced with physical, mental, or emotional sources of stress. The naturopathic doctor uses this concept of intelligent design to further the healing process and establish an internal and external environment conducive to restoring health.
Identify and Treat the Cause: Tolle Causam and Heal the Whole Person: Tolle totum – the naturopathic doctor understands that the cause may come from more than one type of imbalance as well as more than one simultaneous imbalance, meaning every source of cause must be considered: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Considering the body as a whole will allow for the complete understanding of the root cause since the naturopathic doctor understands the complexity and interrelatedness of the hormones and processes of the entire human body. No system works alone and as such no disease should be considered in isolation.
The Doctor as Teacher: Docere and Prevention: Prevention is the Best Medicine – these final two principles ensures the patient is well educated in proper health and wellness management to ensure treatment plans not only cure the current disease imbalance but also prevent any future diseases from occurring.
Therapies Used by Naturopathic Doctors:
Clinical Nutrition examines the relationship between diet and health. Special diets may be recommended based on the needs of the patient. Treatment may include nutritional supplements such as vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and other neutraceuticals.
Botanical/Herbal Medicine uses plant based substances from around the world for their healing effects and nutritional value. The use of plants for healing dates back to the beginning of civilization and is the foundation of modern pharmacology.
Homeopathic Medicine is based on the principles of ‘like cures like’ and uses minute amounts of natural substances to stimulate the self-healing abilities of the body.
Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on balancing the flow of Qi (energy) through the body and includes the use of acupuncture and oriental herbs.
Lifestyle Counseling helps patients make informed choices to reach and maintain their optimal health, in response to the physical, emotional, nutritional and environmental factors that affect well being.
What to Expect at Your Naturopathic Visit
First visits involve an in depth workup of your past and present medical history, family history, current health concerns as well as a complete physical examination. Appointments are scheduled for 60 minutes and will provide a foundation from which future treatments will be directed. If available, please bring a copy of any recent blood work or imaging.
Follow up appointments allow for continuity of care and ongoing collaboration in working towards your health goals. Follow-up appointments are 30 minutes in duration and will be scheduled based on the individualized and specific needs and concerns of each patient.
Get to Know Me
To learn more about naturopathic medicine or if you would like a chance to speak with me, Dr. Vienna Iafrate, ND, one-on-one about how I can help you achieve your health goals, I am happy to offer all prospective patients a complimentary 15-minute consultation.
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