What is Naturopathic Medicine?

04.01.10 /

By: Nicole Ortiz, ND

Less than a year ago, with the help of my business partner, Dr. Sonja Fung, we opened the east valley’s first Naturopathic Medicine Clinic. While many efforts to spread the word and educate people about Naturopathic medicine has ensued, most residents of the valley are still not familiar with exactly what a Naturopathic Doctor can offer them. If you are a person seeking better health through addressing the root causes of your illness and prefer to use more natural methods before drugs, listen up!

Naturopathic medicine has blossomed to new levels of demand as the conventional health care system in the US continues to fail to meet the health needs of our community. As citizens seek medicine that promotes healthy lifestyle and prevention of chronic disease rather than quick temporary fixes, Naturopathic medicine is positioned in the direction medicine will need to be in the future. From its cost effective nature that is rooted in prevention and education, to the safe non-toxic therapies offered, individuals find Naturopathic medicine as the prefect balance between symptom reduction and permanent positive health changes. By utilizing a combination of conventional medical training and a plethora of evidence-based natural healing modalities, Naturopathic doctors are the natural choice for today’s changing healthcare climate. As primary care doctors in California, a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) can serve as your primary physician or a complementary part of your integrative healthcare team.

The essence of naturopathic medicine is its focus on the individual patient and its insistence on the rationality and centrality of individualized treatment. As partners in health, NDs value the importance of building a strong relationship with each patient and often an initial consult will last 90 minutes. Spending time listening to the patient is the most fundamental beginning to their healing process.

Naturopathic physicians base their practice on six timeless principles founded on medical tradition and scientific evidence.

• First, do no harm. When possible, do not suppress symptoms, which are the body’s efforts to self-heal.
• Let nature heal. Our bodies have innate instinct for self-healing. By finding and removing the barriers to self-repair, such as poor diet or chronic stress, naturopathic doctors can support their patients’ own healing capacity.
• Identify and treat causes. Naturopathic doctors understand that symptoms will and do return unless the root cause of the illness is addressed. Rather than band-aid symptoms, they seek to find and treat the cause of these symptoms. Symptoms are only clues to the underlying imbalance.
• Educate patients. Naturopathic medicine believes that doctors must be educators, as well as physicians. Naturopathic doctors teach their patients how to eat, exercise, relax and nurture themselves physically and emotionally. They also encourage self-responsibility in the healing process.
• Treat the whole person. Every patient is unique in their physical, emotional, genetic, environmental, social, sexual and spiritual makeup. NDs recognize all factors equally affect our health. For this reason, treatment approaches are tailored according to the individual and not just the disease they may have. The treatments are not one size fits all.
• Prevent illness. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” has never been truer. Naturopathic medicine promotes proactive rather than reactive medicine. Proactive medicine saves money, pain, and lives before it’s too late.

Naturopathic medicine can be an extremely cost effective option to the individual and our nation on a whole. In a recent study, researchers who studied treatment alternatives for low-back pain in a group of 70 warehouse workers found that a naturopathic approach incorporating a range of treatment options—acupuncture, exercise and dietary advice, relaxation training, and a back-care booklet—was more cost-effective than the employer’s usual patient education program. Both the workers and the employer benefited from the naturopathic approach, which was associated with better health-related quality of life, less absenteeism, and lower costs for other treatments and pain medication. Overall, naturopathic care resulted in a net savings (reduced “societal cost”) of $1,212 per participant.

As primary care doctors, NDs treat most chronic conditions and common ailments. The most common conditions that present are allergies, digestive tract issues, hormonal imbalance, heart disease, obesity, and cancer. NDs are trained to utilize prescription drugs, although the emphasis of naturopathic medicine is the use of natural healing agents first.

Additional info about naturopathic doctors can be found at www.naturopathic.org or www.calnd.org. Dr. Nicole Ortiz is the co-owner of Live Well Clinic, the only Naturopathic Clinic in La Quinta. For more information about Live Well Clinic please visit www.livewellclinic.org or call 760-771-5970.

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